For a lot of music traders, Napster is the beginning and end of the online experience. Yes, they've heard about Gnutella, they sampled Scour Exchange, but these and all those other programs just seemed so techie. Times are changing. Peer-to-peer program creators around the world are racing to take the helm of the next "it" music site online. They don't just want to be the next Napster -- they want to be even mightier (read: unstoppable). No doubt, someone's going to win. It's just a matter of time.
In case you've been buried in Napster news, Napster's downloads and Napster nightmares, here's a look at the latest generation of trader warez and resources below. The bad news: because these programs are relatively new and moderately challenging, you won't find nearly as many files as you would on Napster. The good news: many feature more than just music files -- video, images, even text. Here's a look at the leading recent contenders:
LimeWire (www.limewire.com): One of the biggest problems with Gnutella, the grass roots trading network, is its sheer ugliness. Compared to Napster's user-friendly interface, Gnutella is a certifiable mess. In the simplest terms, LimeWire cleans up Gnutella's act. Taking more than a few cues from Napster, LimeWire lets you narrow down your search within a niche of others traders who share similar interests. It also sports the clever "anti-freeloader" option, which lets you snub out any moochers who are looking to download your stuff, but aren't fronting anything in return. Retribution at last!
BearShare (www.bearshare.com): Like LimeWire, this smooth new Gnutella client puts the peer-to-peer morass in a Napster-style package. If you're a Windows user, Bearshare is a real find, because the makers have pumped out the client to make the most of Microsoft's operating system. This means, you can open multiple windows of Bearshare to perform simultaneous searches or just shrivel up the interface so all you see are the blinking lights while files download.
Napigator (www.napigator.com): Some industrious traders out there haven't even tried to out-design Napster, instead, they've simply reverse-engineered the killer app's killer interface and made it work on an alternative network of computer servers. The end result is Open Nap: a decentralized version of the embattled trading system. To use Open Nap, just download a program like Napigator, which hooks you up with hundreds of computer servers to connect you with other users. Once up and running, open up your regular Napster program and Napigator will get you connected. Aside from a slightly lower file count, you won't even notice the difference. That is, of course, unless one of the company's providing the alt.network gets shut down.
Carracho (www.carracho.com): Mac users tend to get shafted when it comes to cutting edge music warez. Carracho, developed by a two student brothers in Berlin, has been spreading around the world with steady force. There's not a ton of stuff available, but that might be more representative of the scope of the Mac trader community than the worthiness of this software.